His tall, thin frame was hunched over the bar in a state of absolute despair, glass of something alcoholic in hand. He wasn't sure what it was; he didn't care, and it had been one of about 13 at this stage. Just something warm and strong to drown away his misery in. He wondered briefly about that phrase, to drown your sorrows and woes in something. It should have, in his mind, been something more like, whacking your sorrow with a great big hammer in the hope it'll take it away, shift the thoughts elsewehere for a while...but then the focus is just intensified, suddenly it's the only one thing on your mind. It takes over every other subject you ever thought about, day and night, it makes you question yourself, it turns you into an insomniac, it hurts, it...
Tonight had been particularly rough; it wasn't an anniversary, a birthday, anything special. He just missed her, and for some reason, little memories wouldn't go away. He missed the feeling of sitting in his apartment, being able to look over at the woman in his life and feel warm, content, sure of things. He missed waking up in the middle of the night, rolling over and wrapping his arms around her waist, the smell of her flowery shampoos assaulting him as he kissed her on the cheek every morning while she stood at the counter, book in one hand, a finger from the other raised to her lips.
He shifted in his seat. That one hurt.
Things had been wonky for a few weeks now, he'd known it. He didn't want to admit to knowing, so he did his usual, bury his head in the sand and hope things get better. For 26 years, it had worked well. But this was different. The one thing in his life he especially cared about was distant, irritable, and never around anymore. There had been more nights spent at home, more nights out with the girls, less lunches, less walks. Less calls and texts.
She was losing interest. So Don started making more of an effort, buying her more things, talking to her more, cooking. Anything he could think of. He started running, maybe he wasn't fit enough. He started Googling topics to discuss, maybe he was turning dull. He offered to go anywhere, do anything she wanted, but nothing more than a shrug and a "Maybe tomorrow, Don, I'm not feeling up to it tonight." He gave her space if that was what she wanted, went out with the boys, but she never, not once, made any move to contact him.
Lying next to her in bed, he knew she was awake. It was 2AM. Their hips were touching, but they couldn't have been much further from each other as in that moment. Don moved closer, his chest aching for some semblance of warmth from her. A responsive touch, a smile, anything. He placed hs hand on her waist, drew her closer, pressed a kiss to her shoulder.
"Baby? Jess, please talk to me. Something's wrong, and I don't know what it is. Talk to me. Please." His voice had cracked halfway through; maybe she could no longer tolerate his sensitivity.
Jessica sighed. She'd been an enthusiastic, bright eyed, happy-go-lucky 20 year old when they first met. Now she was weary, impatient, she couldn't have cared much less. "It's nothing, Don. I'm just tired."
He turned her round to face him, catching the expression on her face. "Is it me? I don't mind if it is, just please let me know."
Jessica sighed, cast her eyes downwards. "It's not...it's just that...oh Don. I'm sorry."
Looking back now, Don was fairly sure that this was the exact moment his heart began to crack. "What is it? Another guy?"
Jessica shook her head slowly, the corners of her eyes filled with tears. "It's just...I don't know..."
"No!" A pause. "Yes."
"You hate me."
"Don." She had rolled over then, pushing her face into the pillow. "I just don't feel the same. I'm not excited anymore."
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And that was that. They chatted on through the night. Her mind wouldn't be changed. Something had happened, something was lost, she didn't ever think it would come back to her. He promised her everything if she would just reconsider. She said she'd spent too long reconsidering, hoping for things to change back to how they were. She was sorry, she just needed to do this for herself, she said. She packed up her things the next day and walked out of his life, just like that, after six years.
Don had been in too much shock at the time to ask the one thing that now haunted his thoughts; "what about me?"
A/N: Author's Promise- next one will not be this angsty ;)